Tom Borelli

With politics driving decisions, it was not surprising to see Obama use $285 million of the $787 billion stimulus package to order over 17,000 fuel-efficient vehicles from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, including 2,500 hybrids.

The White House, keeping to its global warming theme, hyped that the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions will “… prevent 26 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.”

Similarly, Obama is ignoring market reality in his quest to significantly increase use of renewable energy. Recent decisions by oil giants British Petroleum (BP) and Shell makes it clear that carbon-based fossil fuels are the most efficient way to power our economy.

Not long ago both companies sought to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility by touting their commitments to renewable energy. BP’s high profile “Beyond Petroleum” advertising campaign was designed to emphasize its pledge to alternative fuels.

Shell is now refusing to invest additional resources in wind and solar power and BP – going back to its petroleum roots – cut its investments in renewable energy.

In fact, these companies are now looking to meet future energy needs by investing in Canadian oil sands – a carbon-rich source of energy that emits more carbon dioxide than does conventional oil.

After dabbling in political correctness, energy companies recognize that wind and solar alternatives don’t make economic sense.

The reason for this was made by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who wrote in a Newsweek commentary that “Strictly from a physicist's perspective, burning oil for fuel can be understood.” Translation: fossil fuels are an efficient energy source.

Physics and economics aside, energy companies are on a collision course with Obama’s political directive to “make the U.S. a leader on climate change” and “save our planet from the ravages of climate change…”

Enter global warming legislation.

As John Deutch, former director of the CIA and a professor at MIT said, “The important thing is for the government to establish a carbon policy. You can be absolutely confident that oil companies will pursue that, as will any other companies.”

The best way for Obama to achieve the liberal nirvana of electric cars, wind and solar energy is through the brute force of government intervention via cap-and-trade legislation. Alternatives only become cost effective when the cost of traditional energy sources are increased.

Obama reiterated his unyielding support of cap-and-trade in a recent speech on the economy, saying “But the only way to truly spark this transformation is through a gradual, market-based cap on carbon pollution, so that clean energy is the profitable kind of energy… If businesses and entrepreneurs know today that we are closing this carbon pollution loophole, they will start investing in clean energy now.”

If Obama is willing to mandate that GM – a company on the verge of bankruptcy – sell a financial loser for the cause, he will not abandon the opportunity to regulate carbon emissions regardless of the economic costs.

With Obama, it’s policy by ideology; not reason.

Tom Borelli

Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks.

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